Michael Clarkson, in his new psychological biography of the late Canadian classical pianist Glenn Gould (The Secret Life of Glenn Gould), notes that Gould was obsessive about the touch of a piano. He prized keyboards with "a tactile grab and immediacy," preferring "a light, responsive keyboard action; 'rough' keys; no after-touch, and with the sound stopping the moment he lifted his finger off the key." How the instrument felt under his hands was more important to the artist than how it sounded.
Indeed, Gould's obsession with a particular piano, a Steinway concert grand known as CD318 (with C, indicating that the instrument was for the use of Steinway Concert Artists only, and D identifying it as the largest model Steinway built), is the subject of an entire book of its own, Katie Hafner's "A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould's Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano".
Well, I understand a bit about how Gould evidently felt about the tool of his trade, and I'm very picky about the tools of my profession, these days prominently including computer keyboards and mice. I derive great pleasure from any human/machine interface device or control input, such as the switchgear on a high-quality automobile, a well-engineered manual gearshift, or even a door handle with a smooth and light action. LIke Gould, I'm big on light, responsive action, which can be almost sensual when the engineers get it right.
Some of the best personal computer input devices in this context come from the Swiss peripherals manufacturer Logitech. For example, I'm very partial to the feel of the Logitech V550 Laptop mouse, which has beautiful button action and a butter-smooth freewheeling scroll wheel.
For the past several days, I've been checking out the new Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750, and can already declare it close to the top of my hit parade of favourite keyboards.
The K750's quiet, chiclet-style "InCurve" keys have a concave design that supports the shape of your fingertips while helping guide your fingers to the right keys, and soft, rounded edges that make it easy for your fingers to glide from key to key. The keys have an exceptionally short, smooth and positive action with a comfortable soft landing that I find helps me type faster than usual (I need all the help I can get there) and it feels great doing it. I think this is a keyboard Glenn Gould would probably have approved of.
This attractive, elegant keyboard in glossy piano black livery connects to your computer wirelessly via Logitech's proprietary version of 2.4 GHz RF technology through a USB receiver dongle. I know from experience with other Logitech devices fulfils the claim of having virtually no latency delays or dropouts, so you get essentially the solid response benefits of a corded keyboard, with the convenience of wireless.
Logitech's 2.4 GHz wireless technology also includes 128-bit AES encryption - one of the highest levels of security available. The low-profile Unifying receiver module (which can support up to five other compatible Logitech devices) is tiny enough that it should be able to remain in situ in a laptop's USB port when transported in a computer case or backpack.
I had no problem getting the test unit to connect, basically just a matter of inserting the USB receiver dongle in a USB port and turning on the keyboard's power switch, and it's been flawless since.
Thanks to there being no necessity to accommodate a battery compartment (other than for the ML2032 button-cell rechargeable backup battery), the K750 measures a razor-like 1/3 inch (7.5 mm) thick in section, and the 'board is completely untethered with no no power bricks or charging cables holding it back.
Initially, the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 is supported only for Windows 7, Vista, and XP, although a Mac version is rumoured to be in the works (unconfirmed by Logitech at this point). I found that the K750 works just fine with Mac OS X, although one has to make the adjustment to Windows configuration key mapping and labeling.
A free, dedicated solar power monitoring and management application can be downloaded from Logitech's support site, and features a lux meter to help you assess whether it's getting the necessary light, and making it easy to get at-a-glance information about battery levels, and even alerting you when you need more power. (But of course this Windows-Only app. does not support the Mac),
The Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 lists for £69.99 in the UK, 79 Euros elsewhere in Europe, and can currently be ordered on Logitech's web site, shipping just in time for Christmas. I can enthusiastically suggest that almost anyone with compatible hardware will be delighted to find this green device under the tree on the 25th. High street retailers should begin getting stock in early 2011.